Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu turned down Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s request to make a solidarity visit to Israel, according to Israeli news sources.
Zelenskyy decried the Hamas attacks and reaffirmed Israel’s “full right to defend itself,” drawing comparisons to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to a statement posted to X on Oct. 7.
Zelenskyy, who is Jewish, asked to visit Israel to make a show of support, but that request was denied by Netanyahu, who said he felt “it’s not the right time,” according to Israeli source Ynetnews.com.
Zelenskyy planned to make a stop in Israel as part of his larger European tour, as he could not make a “standalone trip” given the status of Ukraine in its conflict with Russia.
While Netanyahu said a visit from Zelenskyy is not feasible now, he would welcome a trip in the future.
Zelenskyy said that he and Netanyahu spoke over the phone a day after Hamas began carrying out attacks against Israel.
I spoke with @Netanyahu to affirm Ukraine’s solidarity with Israel, which suffers from a brazen large-scale attack, and to express condolences for the multiple victims.
The Prime Minister informed me of the current situation and the actions of Israel’s Defense Forces and law…
— Volodymyr Zelenskyy / Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) October 8, 2023
Zelenskyy equated the attacks to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in which nearly half a million people have been killed or injured, according to Reuters.
“On Israel. I recall the early days of Russia’s full-scale war on Ukraine. This was the worst tragedy, with many people killed. It was critical not to feel alone,” Zelenskyy said on Oct. 8. “This is why I urge all leaders to visit Israel and show their support for the people.”
On Israel. I I recall the early days of Russia’s full-scale war on Ukraine. This was the worst tragedy, with many people killed. It was critical not to feel alone. Feeling supported can help you save your country, people, and life.
This is why I urge all leaders to visit Israel… pic.twitter.com/QGgAxMabjB
— Volodymyr Zelenskyy / Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) October 11, 2023
Over 1,300 Israelis have been killed by Hamas since Oct. 7, and nearly 200 people — including Americans — have been taken hostage. The IDF launched a sweeping counteroffensive and airstrikes in the Gaza Strip, and it is preparing for a ground assault in the region to clear out Hamas forces.